Q Does the practice of law get less difficult over time?
— S. R., Torrance
A My experience is that over time a lawyer gains familiarity with the various challenges and difficulties that come with the practice of law, and thus gains knowledge on how to deal with them. Law is indeed a form of practice, at which you strive to get better. Laws change, and new laws are enacted. Cases and transactions have surprises, including at times issues you have not dealt with before. Clients make demands, and it might not be possible to obtain a result the client prefers. Deadlines loom, whether you are in court or handling a transactional matter.
Challenges for lawyers exist in both the private and public sectors. In the private sector, there is time spent not just handling files, but the expense and effort to seek clients, let alone keep them. The overhead costs of running a practice must be addressed. In the public sector, case load and workload demands can be substantial (and the pay possibly not all that significant).
For litigators, losing or getting a poor result can knock the wind out of you. Still, I continue to find the practice of law very engaging, and remain more positive about it than not. The practice has its rewards, by no means in just a monetary sense. Doing the job well is its own reward, as is getting a good result for a client. There is indeed opportunity for lawyers to help others.
Q Why is the Bar passage rate in California so low?
— C.L., Los Angeles
A In July 2016, just 43 percent of those who took the California Bar Exam passed it. That was down from 46.6 percent in July 2015, which itself was down from 48.6 percent in July 2014. In addition, the number of people taking the Bar exam in 2016 (7,737) was the lowest in 12 years. Part of what is happening, according to research, is that fewer are applying to law school, and evidently many of the more motivated students are pursuing other avenues for work.
There are other reasons given as well for the low passage rate: The stress of the exam affects those taking it. It is difficult, and the grading is conservative. Also, there may be a level of carelessness among some taking the exam, which can include a lack of preparation. The Bar exam has been given over three days, but starting in July 2017 that will be reduced to two days. However, it isn’t expected to be any less difficult.
The California Bar exam is not the kind of test you cram for in a week. In addition, there are those who take the exam not to pass, but rather to find out what it’s like. When I took the Bar exam years ago, a woman who sat next to me said she felt pretty good about her chances “the next time.” She had no expectation of passing,but had taken the exam just to find out what it was like.
I also have colleagues who took the Bar exam more than once before passing. For what it’s worth, they all would say they’re glad they passed, and happy to be a lawyer, even with all the challenges lawyers face, not the least of which is passing the Bar exam.
Ron Sokol is a Manhattan Beach attorney with more than 30 years of experience. His column, which appears on Wednesdays, presents a summary of the law and should not be construed as legal advice. Email questions and comments to him at RonSEsq@aol.com or write to him at Ask the Lawyer, Daily Breeze, 21250 Hawthorne Blvd., Suite 170, Torrance, CA 90503.
Re: 2015 February California Bar Exam
Postby a male human » Mon Nov 24, 2014 3:10 pm
BarZombie wrote:Ok...well at least we get a second bite at the apple.
Honestly, I felt good about the exam until the last day...some timing issues with the torts question and the last PT...at the time I didn't think it was fatal...so I honestly don't know if it was the MBE or my last PT or a combination of both.
It's good that we will get our essays and scores from CA to know where to focus...just hope it's before mid-December.
If anyone is interested, I looked at the July 2013 scaling formula and compared it to February 2014 and July 2014...we definitely got kicked in the teeth.
It seems that the MBE messed it up for everyone and removed any degree of cushion for a misstep...if your problem was written...maybe not what you want to hear...but reality...and maybe something to help keep things in perspective as you prep for Feb...this is not minimal competency exam any longer...but a game...and there should be transparency.
For July of 2013 you needed a 60 average on the written portion and a scaled MBE of 137 to pass.
For February of 2014 you needed a 60 average on the written portion and a scaled MBE of 145 to pass.
For July of 2014 you needed a 62 average on the written portion and a scaled MBE of 141 to pass (The national average)... Or a 60 average + 152 scaled MBE) ...this is brutal given how tough the grading is in CA...and that a lot of students use the MBE for cushion.
The above noted were quick calculations...so give or take a point or two.
It seems that the bar candidates for July 2013 got lucky with the scaling...February 2014 candidates...not so bad...but the July 2014 formula is brutal...less liberal than even February 2014.
This exam is definitely doable...but I don't think there will be much room to make more than a few minor bloopers on the written portion...the National Conference has removed any cushion...and any chance of padding the MBE side of the exam...especially with CivPro coming up and the way they are writing the test.
Let's hope February is a little softer in terms of the scaling...although who knows...there will be a lot of us retaking this exam with a good foundation and knowledge of what to expect...I feel sorry for any first time takers come February...the bar will be high and we will all be out for blood this round.
And one more thing...if July 2013 candidates were better qualified, then why did they benefit with such a generous scaling?
Good luck everyone!
I hear the MBE was a beast this time around. All, if not most, states had their pass rates drop.
The PTs from July 2013 were extremely difficult and not very straightfoward unlike the typical PT, which may explain the scaling. People were crying after PT-A, and I got 55s on them even though I was confident about PTs.